Have you ever wondered how your decision making, memory and emotions work? I keep thinking, studying and researching about this astounding design called Human Brain. To me, it’s fascinating to understand this more and better.
Why is human brain so special?
In simple terms, Human Brain has three basic layers namely – Reptilian brain, Mammalian brain, and Neocortex brain. The reptilian brain takes care of all our survival requirements while the mammalian brain is responsible for the emotions, feelings, memory and social connections. Neocortex brain which is unique only to human beings is the largest layer with infinite possibilities. Human thinking, cognition, and creativity are controlled by this part of the brain.
For various evolutionary reasons, sensing danger and seeking protection is the default brain setting. Hence we tend to be more negative and paranoid than being positive and happy. We need gurus and teachers to teach us how to be happy rather we don’t need anyone teach us to feel miserable and sad. Unhappiness comes to us naturally while we have to deliberately find ways to be happy in life.
How does the brain work?
Given a choice the brain would always choose activities that consume far less energy than an activity that demands energy. It’s a brilliant energy conserving system in human body.
Have you ever been to a Standup Comedy show? What’s easy and what’s difficult? Performing on the stage or enjoying as an audience?
It’s quite easy and simple to be one among few as an audience, laugh, giggle and make noise. However, it’s fairly a long and difficult to think about a topic, write a script, add humour and punches, rehearse it with voice modulation and body language, then perform it on the stage. It’s easy to swipe the screens watching videos in Youtube and Facebook while building a channel with good videos is demanding journey.
The human brain has 86 billion neurons and this remains fairly same all through one’s life. What changes is the way these neurons are wired? As we evolve from a little baby to a toddler to an adolescent and to a man or woman – at every stage of development in life these connections and neural pathways are developed.
It’s absolutely possible to train your brain by rewiring these connections and pathways. The brain continuously reorganises itself by forming new neural connections, a process called neuroplasticity, which allows the neurons to respond to new situations or environmental changes. These new connections create fresh neural pathways.
Is it really possible to train your brain?
An important caution to be noted before we attempt to rewire our brain’s neural connections is – the human brain is a hugely complex organ, despite massive leaps forward in how we understand and visualize its activity. We’re still not educated enough about the mechanisms that govern to be able to change the way we want. However, with little training and focus, you’ll be able to rewire your brain toward the positive and effective thinking and decision making.
Ways to Rewire Your Brain to Be Positive and Effective
1. Understand your brain better
Take some quality time to read and reflect on how a human brain functions. Afterall that’s what you are using all the time and it’s worth learning about it.
Understanding Neuroplasticity – “the ability of human brain to change its wiring and neural connections in response to experience” will help you use the same to make your life better.
2. Consciously choose to be positive
If you allow yourself to the default brain setting, it will dwell on negativity and will greatly influence your life and decisions. The first step is let go your negativity and focus on the positive aspect in all your life’s situations. By deliberately focusing and organising your thoughts around things that are positive and that’ll make your happy, you’ll be able to stop the negative emotions pull you down.
Recently I was at a dinner party. When I bumped onto the Chef, incidentally without even thinking for a second I said, “Fish curry is little spicy otherwise rest are all are fine”. While driving back, I was thinking why did I say so. There were so many delicious items on the menu, why did I not tell good about any one of them? Instead, my mind quickly went to talk about something that’s not so positive.
One simple practical method I learned is to slow down a bit, think before quickly responding to life’s situation or to stimuli for within and outside, look out for positivity and find reasons to be happy.
3. Learn the psychological and physiological connections
Human brain controls our body through connections it makes with the nervous system. The nervous system carries electrical impulses through nerves which act as electrical cables. The brain is the body’s central control system that receives and send signals the other organs through the nervous and secreted hormones.
Hence understanding the close connection between our Brain and Body will enable us to rework on certain behaviour patterns we’ve built over years in our life.
Since the two elements are connected, changing one will, in theory, change the other. So, if you start by changing your thoughts, you’ll end up changing your behaviours. Conversely, if you change your behaviours, you’ll end up changing your thoughts.
Keeping your physical environment with positivity and happiness will obviously make your psychological state also positive and happy.
4. Relive your happy memory associations
Happy nostalgia is a great therapy for human beings. It will make you more optimistic and less anxious about the future. Studies have found that look back in life especially happy moments can help one build strong feelings of confidence and self-worth. It will also make you more optimistic and bring a brighter outlook.
Reliving the past happy moments could also encourage you to engage in acts of kindness and make you feel good. Your internal visualisation of past experiences from your memory will work wonders for your present and future.
For instance, before speaking to a group of colleagues think of a past experience in which you confidently spoke to a group people that got you good comments and appreciations.
5. Be positive at the present moment
Being positive at the present moment could help you understand the situation better and make effective decisions. Ask few important questions that brings positivity to your present moment.
For example questions like,
What can I feed good about right now?
What’s good in this incident of my life?
How can I express my love and gratitute right now in this moment?
What are reasons for me to be happy at present?
It’s more like the practice of mindfullness, which is being aware of your thoughts and feelings at the moments irrsepctive of what had happened in the past. When you learn to harness the power of present, you’ll no longer allow your past experiences and subconsious mind to drive your decisions. It helps you to focus your thoughts and energy towards a more positive and balanced approach in all aspect of you life.
Bottom line is – ability to learn and apply some of the fundamental brain sciences in life will enable you to bring conscious and consistent betterment in your thinking, decision making and influencing process.